The Newcastle Knights have crashed out of the finals in Week 2, being thumped by the New Zealand Warriors 40 points to 10 in Auckland.

After ten straight wins, the Knights had hoped to silence a pharocial home crowd, but found themselves on the back foot from the get go, with the Warriors at one point ahead of the clock, leading the game 16-0 after 14 minutes.

It was a second disastrous start for the Knights in a row after they went into halftime 16-6 behind against the Canberra Raiders last weekend before being able to pull a nail-biting extra time win out of the fire.

That wasn't the case this time though. The Knights got back into the contest physically and enjoyed long stretches of possession and territory, but were unable to add to the scoreboard in timely fashion, eventually being blown off the park.

Speaking post-game, captain and fullback Kalyn Ponga said the club simply couldn't afford another start like the one they had suffered the week prior.

“You can't start games like that, let alone finals. Last week we got away with it but this week, off the back of their crowd, they were just too good,” Ponga said.

“They won the field position battle and it just felt like that the whole second half... Shaun (Johnson) won the field position with his kicking and we were starting sets inside our 10 and by the time we were able to get our shape on, we didn't earn the right.”

Coach Adam O'Brien, who at one point this season appeared to be under pressure for his future, has starved off that fight with the club hosting an elimination final last weekend, but suggested the way they played meant they had deserved to go out.

“It's funny because we didn't deserve to end like that, but we deserved to end like that,” O'Brien said.

“The way we started the game applied way too much pressure to ourselves.

“It's hard at the moment because we've set such high standards, so for us to just be ok with that performance given what we've done for the last 11 weeks, well that wouldn't mean progress for the club at all.

“I'm glad it's hurting all of us.”

The victories, which saw the Knights end the regular season in fifth and with a pair of home sellouts before also doing the same against the Raiders in their knockout contest, have seen the club turn things around in a big way, and O'Brien said despite the pain of the loss to the Warriors, 2023 was a step in the right direction.

“It's hard for me tonight but over time we could look back over this season as a year that we've taken a few steps forward but the key now is let's just keep going. We're at the start, we were never going to build it straight away but we've taken a good step in the right direction," the coach added.